[acimlessons_list] Lesson 21 - January 21
sue at circleofa.org
Fri Jan 20 07:08:11 EST 2012
Lesson 21 - January 21
"I am determined to see things differently."
Exercise: 5 times, for 1 full minute each
* Repeat the idea.
* Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for any
situation at any time that arouses anger in you, no matter how mild. Hold
each one in mind and say, "I am determined to see [specify person or
situation] differently." Give "little" and "big" thoughts of anger the same
attention. Be very specific, even to the point of naming specific attributes
in specific people that anger you: "I am determined to see [specify the
attribute] in [name of person] differently."
Remarks: In this practice, we are meant to avoid the fallacy that the degree
of our anger matters. This fallacy takes two forms. The first is thinking
that tiny bits of anger-for instance, mild irritation-are too small to
bother including in the exercise. The second is emphasizing certain
"obvious" sources of anger, which implies that in these particular cases our
anger is truly justified. The truth is that all anger is maximal and none of
it is justified.
A second fallacy is mentioned as well. This is the belief that our anger is
confined to a particular personality trait in someone: "I basically love
Jim. I am not angry at him across the board, just at this one particularly
annoying trait of his." This lesson is implying that our anger toward this
person is not safely confined in this way; it is across the board. With this
fallacy, rather than not letting it influence our practice (as with the
previous fallacy), we are supposed to use it in our practice. We are
supposed to apply the idea specifically to that trait (see 5:4).
Response to temptation: whenever a situation arouses anger
Repeat the idea, specifying the perceived source of the anger: "I am
determined to see [specify person or situation] differently."
In this lesson we apply the idea of being determined to see to specific
situations that arouse anger, with an emphasis on seeing these situations
differently. The meaning of these exercises in connection with transforming
our perceptions is quite obvious.
One thought from this lesson is particularly striking. It is a thought that
makes more and more sense to me the longer I work with the Course, studying
the Text and practicing the mental disciplines it teaches us.
"You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is
nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury."
The very first "miracle principle" presented in Chapter 1 of the Text said,
"There is no order of difficulty in miracles." The idea expressed in this
lesson closely parallels that concept. There is no order of severity in
anger, either; a slight twinge of annoyance is the same as intense fury, and
in fact <is> disguised rage. All forms of anger stem from the same source.
Some schools of psychology have long maintained that everyone carries around
a deeply suppressed, primal anger. It may be tempered by a veneer of
civilization, but underneath, in the subconscious, lies a violent fury. Many
have attributed this to our animalistic origins in evolution, but the Course
sees the anger in a metaphysical sense. Within us we carry a blinding anger
at ourselves because we believe we have attacked reality and succeeded; we
have somehow managed to separate ourselves from God and have destroyed the
unity of Heaven. We think that in a childish fit of pique over not receiving
special treatment and special love, we have ruined our own home and can
never go back.
We are enraged at ourselves, but, unable to endure the guilt of our own
self-hatred, we broadcast it outward and deflect our anger onto other
objects we believe to be separate from ourselves. The term used for this
displacement of anger is "projection." The ego within us is constantly
"cruising," looking for situations onto which anger can be projected with
seeming justification, in order to convince our minds that the cause of the
anger is without, and not within.
Every flash of anger, ranging from mild irritation up to rage, are all
symptoms of this same, deep, primal self-hatred, projected onto the world.
They are all the same thing. This is why the Course is advising us not to
believe that some forms of attack are more justified than others, and not to
overlook the "little" thoughts of anger. By making no distinction between
"degrees" of anger we are helping ourselves learn that they are, in reality,
all the same, and all equally unjustified.
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